Removing Shoes

If you sat, or are planning on sitting, your BHS Stage II exam then you will know all of the farrier’s tools and the process of shoeing. 

But for all horse owners, it’s worth learning about shoeing. Perhaps ask your farrier if you can have a go at taking a shoe off under their supervision because you never know when you might need to take a shoe off in an emergency.

Earlier this week I went to get one of the horses in from the field to ride. She dawdled on the way in, and stood still to be tied up. I took her rug off. That should have been my warning sign because she stood perfectly still when normally she fidgets. I went to the rack room, and when I came back she was still stood in the same spot. Weird. Then I noticed she was reluctant to put weight on one hind foot. Looking more closely, I could see the mud was sticking out beyond her foot so I had to investigate.

It was pretty impressive. She’d managed to twist her shoe anti-clockwise so that the shoe stuck out over the outside of her foot, outside nails still firmly in, but the inside branch was across the sole, with the quarter clip embedded into her sole.

I’ve seen horses who have lost a shoe, not been uncomfortable in any way, and can be lightly worked in the school. I’ve seen horses with slightly sprung shoes. That is, they’ve stood on the heel of one branch, so the shoe isn’t flush to the foot. Slightly sprung means that I wouldn’t want to work the horse, but I’d rather leave the shoe on if the farrier was coming that day, and restrict the horse’s movement. 

This twisted shoe, however, couldn’t be left. I’m kicking myself that I didn’t take a photo of it. Leaving the mare resting her foot I spoke to her carer to organise the farrier. Then I managed to get hold of a hammer. Some yards have an old set of farrier’s tools, but after looking for some for myself I’m afraid they’re surprisingly expensive so will become a rarity.

With my friend’s help, we slowly and carefully removed the shoe. Initially, we wiggled it to see which nails were tight, and which were loose. We didn’t have any loose nails, so we decided to try the loosen the tight nails and prise the shoe off. We couldn’t lift the clenches, so wiggled the shoe until we could fit the claw of the hammer under the outer branch of the shoe, and gently rocked the hammer until the shoe was a bit looser. One nail came away, but the rest of the shoe took more wiggling.

After almost twenty minutes (yes, I know I’d be a rubbish farrier) the shoe came off. The hoof wall was still in tact, which I was quite impressed with.

With the farrier coming at the end of the day, I decided that the mare would be happiest out in her field, not in the stable. However, I was concerned about the mud.

I dug around until I found some poultice materials, and brushed out the foot. I was concerned that dirt will get into wound on the solders . But I wrapped up the foot well and left the mare in the hard standing area of her field, happily eating hay to wait patiently for the farrier.

The shoe was put back on and she doesn’t seem to have come to any harm from her exploits.

  1. To remove a shoe, you want to lift clenches up, and then grasp the branches with the pinchers and slowly prise the branches from the heel to the fro.
  2. Keep gently prising until the shoe is looser and then hinge the shoe from the toe back to lift the shoe off.

Here’s a video to demonstrate – Here it is

If you do have to remove a shoe in an emergency, just remember to do everything slowly so you don’t hurt the horse, shock them so they kick out, or bruise the sole, nor take off any hoof with it, which will make replacing the shoe a much easier job.

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2 thoughts on “Removing Shoes

  1. EquiPepper February 16, 2017 / 11:50 am

    At university we had to learn how to remove shoes when the farrier was there. So good to know how to do it! Work also shoe removal kits for horse owners for this exact reason and I’m thinking about getting myself one!

  2. Tracy - Fly On Over February 16, 2017 / 1:43 pm

    Thanks for sharing! I’ve had to do this twice, and it’s always such a struggle — I’d make an awful farrier.

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